Despite the GOP’s Underperformance, Its Voters Increasingly See the Midterm Elections as ‘Free and Fair’
Republican candidates underperformed in this year’s midterm elections, but high-profile candidates who lost have largely accepted their defeat to Democrats after casting doubt on election integrity since 2020. That appears to be resonating with Republican voters, a majority of whom believe the 2022 midterm elections were above board, according to a new Morning Consult survey.
GOP Faith in 2022 Election Integrity Spikes Following Nov. 8 Contests
More GOP voters now see the midterms as ‘free and fair’
- A slim majority of GOP voters (52%) said in the Nov. 10-13 survey that the 2022 midterm elections were “free and fair,” up from 42% who said the week prior that they expected the contests to be legitimate. This is the biggest share of GOP confidence in the election’s integrity that Morning Consult has measured since President Joe Biden took office. Less than a third of Republicans nationwide (31%) said they believe the contests were not free and fair.
- Republican women (44%) are less likely to trust the propriety of the 2022 contests than Republican men (60%), consistent with most surveys conducted since January 2021.
- On the other side of the aisle, 89% of Democratic voters believe the 2022 elections were conducted with integrity, similar to expectations measured in the months ahead of the contests.
How candidates are approaching election integrity
Americans rejected a number of Republican candidates who denied the results of the 2020 presidential election, including secretary of state nominees in Arizona, Michigan and Nevada and Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. But according to a Washington Post tally, more than 150 of the election deniers were elected to Congress, largely in safe Republican turf.
While former President Donald Trump has used his Truth Social platform to cast doubt on the election, referring to “another Giant Election Scam” on Monday, few others are making those kinds of excuses that can erode Americans’ trust in the electoral process.
For example, Mastriano, one of the 2022 field’s more brazen proponents of lies about the 2020 presidential election result, issued a lengthy statement accepting his loss to Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro. Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, another such loud voice, had been restrained for days about her close race against Democrat Katie Hobbs, though her response to the news of her loss on Monday night suggested that might be changing.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called the midterms a “complete disappointment” for the GOP, not because of any malfeasance but because “our voters didn’t show up.”
With elections still yet to be called, Morning Consult trend surveys suggest that, unlike in 2020, the outcome of this year’s midterm elections, which brought mixed results for both parties, will not have a meaningful impact on Americans’ faith in the electoral process.
2022 Outcome Has Little Effect on Americans’ Trust in U.S. Elections
Trust in the electoral system flatlines after midterms
- Despite majority trust on the right in the sanctity of the 2022 contests, the bulk of Republican adults (54%) said they lack trust in the U.S. electoral system as a whole, similar to the 52% who said the same in a survey conducted just before Election Day.
- Americans who are unaffiliated with a major political party look very similar to Republican voters when it comes to institutional trust: 47% said they had “some” or “a lot” of trust in the electoral system, compared with 53% who had little or none.
- The majority of Democratic voters (65%) said they have some or a lot of trust in the electoral system, similar to the prior weekend.
The Morning Consult surveys were conducted Nov. 10-13, 2022, and Nov. 10-12, 2022, among representative samples of 2,008 registered voters and 2,210 U.S. adults, respectively, with margins of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Eli Yokley is a senior data reporter at Morning Consult covering politics and campaigns. @eyokley